Urban Pagan in Somerset

Urban Pagan in Somerset

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Have a Merry Burns Night!

Robert Burns was born 25 January 1759 (to 21 july 1796) and is well known for his poetry, his contribution to the Romantic movement and as possibly the most famous Scotsman.

He is celebrated on 25 January each year at Burns Night events everywhere. Although this isnt a pagan celebration, I still like to celebrate it as its a celebration of poetry, song and creativity which my Bardic side enjoys immensly. It was he who wrote Auld lang syne which everyone knows world wide, and is traditionally sung on new years eve. And another well known poem Tam o' Shanter.

He is celebrated with a feast of Haggis, neeps and a dram of whisky. The Haggis was immortalised in his poem 'Address to a Haggis'. Neeps is a dish usually consisting of swede, turnip, and potatoes, boiled and mashed. Sometimes served with butter and a good dose of pepper in it.

The Haggis is a dish containing a mix of minced sheep's heart, liver and lungs, onion, oatmeal,spices, meat stock and suet with a pinch of salt which is mixed and traditionally simmered in the animal's stomach for approximately three hours. Haggis is actually a large kind of sausage. Nowadays you can even get a vegetarian Haggis option in many health food shops.

Part of my pagan life consists of celebrating the traditions built up over many years of various lands that I feel connected to. They may not be a 'pagan' celebration, but still fun to take part and great to be part of a living tradition.

He also wrote 'To a Mouse' from which we get the well known line 'Wee, sleekit, cowrin, timrous beastie'

To A Mouse

Wee, sleekit, cow'rin, tim'rous beastie,
O, what a panic's in thy breastie!
Thou need na start awa sae hasty
Wi bickering brattle!
I wad be laith to rin an' chase thee,
Wi' murdering pattle.

I'm truly sorry man's dominion
Has broken Nature's social union,
An' justifies that ill opinion
Which makes thee startle
At me, thy poor, earth born companion
An' fellow mortal!

I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;
What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!
A daimen icker in a thrave
'S a sma' request;
I'll get a blessin wi' the lave,
An' never miss't.

Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!
It's silly wa's the win's are strewin!
An' naething, now, to big a new ane,
O' foggage green!
An' bleak December's win's ensuin,
Baith snell an' keen!

Thou saw the fields laid bare an' waste,
An' weary winter comin fast,
An' cozie here, beneath the blast,
Thou thought to dwell,
Till crash! the cruel coulter past
Out thro' thy cell.

That wee bit heap o' leaves an' stibble,
Has cost thee monie a weary nibble!
Now thou's turned out, for a' thy trouble,
But house or hald,
To thole the winter's sleety dribble,
An' cranreuch cauld.

But Mousie, thou art no thy lane,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

Still thou are blest, compared wi' me!
The present only toucheth thee:
But och! I backward cast my e'e,
On prospects drear!
An' forward, tho' I canna see,
I guess an' fear!

I wish you a Merry Burns Night - pass the whisky please!

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